Fall is for planting!
October 25, 2013
Ok folks, it's time to plant! If you've ever complained about how hard it is to keep plants happy in the summer, then you need to shift your focus to fall. Us plant geeks keep telling you to plant now...and we promise we're not blowin' smoke! Get your booties out into the garden! Planting during fall and winter gives your new plantings lots of time to put down new roots before the onset of summer heat and drought. Really, you'll be doing both your plants and yourself a big favor!
Autumn is an especially great time in the vegetable garden. In fact, in DFW, our cool season gardens are much more productive than our summer gardens. The weather is cooler and rainfall more plentiful. You’ll find that maintenance is much easier during the fall and winter months.
September - November are prime planting times for many vegetable varieties. You can plant transplants of Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Collards, and Kohlrabi starting mid-September through early November. Direct seed any of the salad greens from September through October and continue planting transplants through November.
October is the best time for Texans to plant garlic cloves. You can purchase garlic for planting at your local garden center, where you’ll find the best varieties for our area. Split the bulb up into individual cloves then plant about one- to two-inches deep and about three- to six-inches apart. Cloves must be planted in the fall in order for them to receive the required chilling to form bulbs. Garlic bulb formation occurs in response exposure to one or two months of soil temperatures between 32 °F and 50 °F followed by the lengthening days of spring once shoots have emerged. If you want to grow onions, you can start them from seed during fall. You’ll wait until January to plant onion slips or sets (transplants).
Autumn is also a great time to plant cool season herbs, such as chamomile, chervil, chives, cilantro, comfrey, dill, fennel, fenugreek, lemon balm, parsley, and many more. These herbs will continue growing for you all the way through winter and the following spring. Don’t forget that some evergreen herbs, such as curled parsley and blood sorrel make great ornamentals in the Autumn & Winter garden. Mix them with pansies, violas and dusty miller for a striking combination. Make sure to amend your vegetable and herb beds with plenty of organic compost before planting.
Be sure to fertilize your veggies and herbs with an organic vegetable fertilizer. Typically, you’ll fertilize plants at planting time, and then again once plants begin to flower or fruit.
We can’t forget about fruit! Autumn and winter, when berries and fruit trees go dormant, is the best time to plant. By planting when it’s cool, or when plants are dormant, you’ll give them plenty of time to establish before the onset of summer heat. Fruit trees that do well in our area include fig, pear, peach, plum, and pomegranate. While apples and cherries don’t fare quite as well in our climate, there are certain varieties that can be grown with some extra TLC. Citrus trees can also be grown here but usually require some winter protection. Blackberries are probably the easiest of berries to grow, followed by strawberries, raspberries and grapes. All of which perennialize for us.